Electricity cost reduction queried

By Matai'a Lanuola Tusani T - Ah Tong 25 January 2022, 12:48AM

The M.P. for Falelatai and Samatau, Lupematasila Tile Leia, has questioned the recent 20 per cent electricity price reduction claiming it was illegally implemented and did not go through due process.  

Speaking in parliament last week on the Supplementary Appropriation Bill 2021/2022, the Opposition M.P. acknowledged the drop in electricity cost but was concerned about the process that was undertaken by the Government to arrive at that decision.

He recalled the announcement was made by the Government with the reduction commencing 1 November but did not eventuate until 11 November last year. 

“The reminder is to ensure that announcements are consistent with actions taken,” said Lupematasila.

“On the 11 November the 20 per cent [reduction] was effective although it was done illegally the main thing is there is a reduction…the illegal action is up to the responsible Minister.”

The Minister of Works Transport and Infrastructure, Olo Fiti Vaai then interjected on a point of clarification.

To assist the M.P. who is the former General Manager for the Electric Power Corporation, Olo said the implementation date was delayed due to the late approval of the reduction by the Cabinet.

Furthermore he asked Lupematasila to point out which law did he breach.

The Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, La’auli Leuatea Schmidt also intervened.

La’auli asked the Speaker if the word illegal from the M.P. for Falelatai and Samatau can be removed from the hansard claiming the word is harsh.

Lupematasila again took the floor and suggested that if the word illegal is not accepted perhaps the word that can replace it is “not done in accordance with the law”.

He then spoke about the establishment of the Office of the Regulator by the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) to maintain the independence of regulating electricity costs.

The former E.P.C. General Manager said under regulations the change in electricity cost has to be advertised within 20 days before it can be effective.

According to Lupematasila, the new price was effective on the 11 November when the decision was made but it was backdated to 10 November and was not advertised as per requirement.

“Like I mentioned it was not done in accordance to the law but it was for the benefit of the country – the general public,” said the M.P.

Lupematasila also dismissed claims by the Minister that during his tenure in the E.P.C. office he was only interested in making profit rather than the benefit of the general public.

He responded the reason why the Regulator’s Office exists is so that it not only considers the impact on the consumers it also looks into the profitability of the organisation so that it is not bankrupt.

“The Regulator’s Office is also to prevent Government of the day from using electricity and water costs for campaigns,” he said.

“As observed from maiden speech of some M.Ps, not one of them missed to thank the Minister of Works for the construction of their roads and water supply which means their roads and water pipes were constructed before they came into parliament and as mentioned there are guidelines that we must follow.”

The Minister of Works then interjected to respond to the M.P.

Olo told the parliament that the Ministry was working in negotiating fuel prices and firstly they make the recommendation to the Regulator advising of the electricity cost.

He said the Regulator does not dictate the cost of electricity but gives the approval on the cost upon recommendation.

In relation to road works, Olo said the construction of roads in districts is for the public and not for the member of parliament.

According to the Minister, there are villages which since Samoa’s independence have not had road works, but since the new Government came into office some seven new road constructions have been completed.

He added he does not wait until M.Ps ask for developments but it is his work as the Minister to carry out inspections on where priority should be given particularly where residents reside.

Parliament has been adjourned until further notice pending the national lockdown effective on Saturday evening. 

By Matai'a Lanuola Tusani T - Ah Tong 25 January 2022, 12:48AM
Samoa Observer

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